a vision for the new year
The New Year is always an exciting time to look toward the future. A new beginning allows us to create for ourselves a clear picture of what the next year might look like, and a motivation to make it happen. But it won’t be long, for most people, before that clear picture – that vision we have for what’s possible, and the motivation that comes with it – starts to fade. That’s a major reason why less than 10% of people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolution. Creating that vision is important; maintaining it is the hard part.
If your son is an athlete, I hope part of your vision for 2017 includes him. I want to challenge and encourage you today to develop a clear vision for who you want your son to become – or to work hard toward becoming – in the next year. Please understand today some important truths about the role you will play in his improvement:
1) No matter his age or his ability level, if he’s still living under your roof, then no one will have a greater influence on your son’s growth as an athlete or a person in the next year than you.
2) What we choose to emphasize in the life of our sons – both on the athletic field and beyond – is what they will learn to value. At the same time, what we fail to emphasize, they will fail to value.
3) Our time is short to teach, develop, and cultivate in our boys what it really takes to be a champion athlete and man. Time flies and our opportunity will be over before we know it.
I hope you’ll take a minute today to consider the vision you have for your son – both as an athlete and a person – in 2017. Do you see clearly the skills and abilities an athlete needs to really reach his full potential, to become the best he can be? And maybe more importantly, do you value those skills and abilities that really matter, and are you helping your son learn to value them, too?
Here is a list of eight qualities – mental skills, abilities, talents – that the best athletes at any level possess. Each of them can be taught, developed, and cultivated in a young athlete by a parent who recognizes their importance and values their improvement:
1. Loving the Game
*Asks to play or chooses to play on his own without encouragement
*Enjoys watching or talking about the game
*Appears to view playing as more an opportunity than an obligation
2. Giving His Best
*Appears to give his best physical effort regardless of circumstances
*Mentally appears engaged in the game – aware, thoughtful, committed regardless of circumstances
3. Overcoming Adversity
*Understands that adversity, challenge, or failure is a part of competition and life
*Effort, attitude, and demeanor are not affected by adversity, challenge, or failure
4. Seeking Improvement
*Has a growth mindset – a belief that he can improve and a desire to do so
*Accepts opportunities to learn and grow from dad, coaches, or other improvement opportunities
* Willing to try or work on areas of weakness in an attempt to get better instead of avoiding them to feel good
5. Getting Coached
*Pays attention when coach is talking during practice or competition – maintains eye contact
*Responds to coach’s instruction with verbal (“yes, sir”) or non-verbal (head nod) acknowledgement
*Responds positively to angry coach with eye contact, acknowledgement, and focused effort instead of sulking, pouting, or crying
6. Being a Teammate
*Seems to enjoy seeing others succeed as much as he seems to enjoy his own success
*Encourages teammates verbally (“good job”) or non-verbally (high five, pat on the back) during competition
*Talks positively about teammates at home or outside the presence of teammates
7. Taking Risks
*Has an understanding of the value of risk and the difference between “good risk” and “bad risk”
*Displays the courage to take worthwhile risks instead of refusing to even try
8. Having a Positive Attitude
*Seems to have more an optimistic outlook than pessimistic – is an energy giver instead of an energy drain
*Has a clear vision/goal for who he wants to be in sports and in life
*Makes effort to live with purpose – to take actions – that align with his vision/goals.
Every day we have an opportunity to use the events in the lives of our sons to help them develop any of these qualities. Your son may be farther in his development in some of these areas than he is in others. Take a minute to evaluate where his strengths and weaknesses lie. Then formulate some plans on how you can help him continue to build on his strengths, and how to learn and improve in his areas of weaknesses. He can do it – learn, grow, and improve – if you make it important. Remember, what you emphasize is what he will learn to value.
The truth is that regardless of his athletic or physical ability, he will never reach his full potential as an athlete without every one of these skills developed. Most parents today aren’t deliberately cultivating these qualities in their sons – they either don’t recognize their importance or don’t see that they can (should! must!) be emphasized and developed. I have to understand that no one else on earth can do that job for my son like I can. If I have a desire to see him be the best he can be, then I must accept this responsibility. If not, then I have to accept that my son won’t be all he can be, and I’m part of the reason why.
If you’re willing to accept this challenge, to create a vision for your son, the athlete in 2017, understand that this vision is focused less on what he gets in the next year and focused more on who he becomes. There are a lot of great things he could get in sports – a championship trophy, an award for being an MVP or an all-star, a spot on the team, a college scholarship offer, or his name in the newspaper. But anything he gets in 2017 will ultimately be determined by someone else, by what they decide to give him. If your vision for the next year revolves around what your son gets, then you’ll be handing your vision for him over to someone else. Focusing on what he becomes in 2017, on the other hand, puts the power squarely in your hands, and in the hands of your son. What he becomes is up to you. Besides, if you focus on the process of helping him become all he can, you’ll likely be pleased with the result of what he gets along with it.
So here’s to making this your best year – your most productive, your most rewarding, and your most fulfilling year ever as a sports parent. Develop a clear vision for who you want your son to become – or to work hard toward becoming – in 2017, and then devote yourself to be one of those 10% who turn their vision for the new year into reality. Use the experiences in his life to emphasize the qualities of a champion – those that really matter. When he exhibits those important qualities in a game, recognize them and highlight them. When he doesn’t, then hold him accountable. Use examples of athletes you see on TV or read about in newspapers, magazines, or online who have developed the important qualities of a champion athlete. You’ll be surprised how many opportunities you can find to help your son grow and improve, once you start looking for them. And while you’re doing all of that, enjoy every second of helping him work towards becoming his best. After all, time flies. Our opportunity will be over before we know it.